Where’s the Beef???


A cow or a bull is a wonderful thing. In an ideal situation, she or he meanders along grassy plains or rolling hills, munching on newly sprouted grass shoots, while gently whipping its tail to shoo off some pesky flies. She or he somehow manages, within its four stomach chambers and a bit of magic, to turn grass into utterly succulent steaks… dense nicely marbled hunks of protein that our ancestors many thousands of years ago figured out tasted best when grilled, or later, pan seared and stuck in an oven. The animal’s tail is the main feature in stunning soups like Sop Buntot, the rear end in burgers, the shanks in osso buco, the testicles, flank, tenderloin, liver, shoulders etc. in a whole range of delicious dishes that carnivores partake in. And let’s not forget milk which then goes onto butter, cream, yoghurt, etc. While many would argue that we have evolved since the “cave man” days (I would argue that some of those caves were more spacious than these new-fangled studio apartments that cost several million pesos), I thankfully would argue that my love of a nice grilled steak is still firmly in place. And yes, I know the arguments against eating too much meat, that they are often raised in less than ideal situations, that they are slaughtered in a manner that would give most folks the chills, etc. I still like my beef. And besides, I think plants have feelings too so as long as we are eating something else, we are eating something else. And now that I have been on a diet for several days, I dream about steaks like this…


So many people I have met consider a steak dinner to be a special occasion kind of event. It’s someone’s (usually a man’s) birthday, or someone is celebrating a major milestone, or promotion, etc. They consider a trip to the nearest steakhouse to be a serious treat. And often, they would NEVER think to cook the steak for themselves at home instead. It’s a bit more western to see someone at a backyard barbecue grilling a steak than it is to see the same sight in Manila or elsewhere in the Philippines… or at least that is my personal impression. But let me tell you. Doing a superb steak at home is NOT hard at all. And it costs a lot less than if you eat it at a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, we still occasionally go out to enjoy steak at restaurants, whether at Mamou’s, Elbert’s, Myron’s, etc. — but we also cook it at home with relative ease and pretty darned good results.


In this case, I hit my suki butcher at Santis delicatessen, asked for a Angus cowboy steak (a large steak from the prime rib) and when they said they didn’t have any, I asked if they had a whole prime rib, which they did. Suki takes out the prime rib, takes the large end and uses the electric saw to cut off two massive rib steaks, roughly 1 and 3/4 inches thick. These were thawed slowly and kept refrigerated until about half an hour before cooking. I heated up a large cast iron skillet, added a couple of drops of oil and brushed it all over, then very carefully dried the steak with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible before sprinkling it generously with Maldon sea salt and some cracked black pepper. The steak was then seared on the hot pan, and after say 3-4 minutes, and nicely caramelized, it was flipped over. After two minutes or so, it was placed in a 375F pre-heated oven for a few more minutes until you get the desired level of doneness. We tend to like our steaks rare or medium rare so this doesn’t take long at all.


Take the steak out and if you want to do a little restaurant trick put a generous dab of butter on the steak and let that melt and form part of the juices. Sprinkle with a little more Maldon and let it rest for several minutes before slicing it. Yum. Two very good thick steaks cost some PHP2,400 which sounds like a lot. But this could feed 5 people very nicely. So for PHP480 per person, far less than a similar portion in a restaurant, one can eat rather luxuriously, if you ask me. Now if only they had absolutely no calories… :) When are they going to invent Diet Steak? Tastes and feels like really steak, but with zero calories? :)


51 Responses

  1. Yum. My regular butcher always says that the rule of thumb is that you can feed two people per rib, but it always ends up working out to only 1.5 people per rib when we serve it at home. Haha, I guess we’re matakaw. Then again, we tend to focus our appetites on the meat instead of the potatoes or veggies. :)

  2. Yummm again … I, too, have been on a diet these last few weeks, and I haven’t had this in quite a while, and too lazy now to buy and prepare it. So, I will go out and find a restaurant this late, 10:28pm, that serves it … I gotta stop reading this site late in the evening. Or while I’m on a diet. :(

  3. Hahahahaha, I eat steak now as a reward to myself rather than just indulging , I either have the rarest Prime Rib I can get or Filet Mignon or PorterHouse Steak when I a bit hungrier amy once every 2 weeks. I am actually switching to Goat (thanks to my Ilocano friends here in the Yay area). I found out their leaner and healthier red meat. This will be good for Filipinos in the Philippines as local raised goat can be very available unlike quality cut beef (which the Philippines imports around 90%). We could be more self sufficient and less reliable on imported beef or lamb.

    Go Goat!

  4. yay! angus! love it. i find it better tasting than wagyu (both we get from santi’s). but in my hierarchy of steaks, meltique goes first, then angus, then wagyu. good luck with the diet mm! i don’t know how you do it. i can never say no to steak tsk tsk

  5. I’ve learned from watching the food network eons ago that the term ‘prime rib’ actually refers to a steak that has a good marbling on it and the age of the beast and not a specific part of the rib rack. I haven’t ventured outside Costco for a sure bet quality meat.

  6. BD, prime rib is an old term referring to the cut of meat that includes several ribs, up to six or seven I think from the “best part” of the animal… technically, the correct term is a rib roast, but the term prime rib remains. There are many USDA designated grades for beef, but even if a rib roast isn’t graded prime, it can and still is called a “prime rib”… go figure.

    In case you or other readers were wondering, the USDA grading system includes:

    U.S. Prime (usually goes to top steakhouses, specialty butchers, etc. and accounts for just a single digit percent of all beef in the U.S.)
    U.S. Choice (often what you find in good supermarkets)
    U.S. Select (what you might find in both good and not so good supermarkets/groceries)
    U.S. Standard (hmmm, now of slightly dubious quality, maybe masked as ground meat, etc.)
    U.S. Commercial (presumably for commercial purposes like hamburger patties, university cafeterias, etc.)
    U.S. Utility
    U.S. Cutter
    U.S. Canner (the last three categories usually goes to meat processors, and I suspect stuff like de lat corned beef is from this category)

    This steak above from Santis was from an Angus cow, but I suspec only a U.S. Choice or Select grade. Nevertheless it was still pretty good. If you really want to see heart attack pricing on superb beef, visit the Lobel’s website, here.

  7. that’s a LOOOT of meat! we only eat meat once or twice a week (most of the time just once a week, really) so whenever we want meat, we go for the good stuff. you’re right, the added expense is really worth it! my man does the grilling though. I have a theory that meat and men are better friends on the grill. haha

  8. miss steak… nice one! I cooked myself a nice steak 2 days ago bought from rustans labeled as australian beef. Not bad for the price, but much fulfilling since you cooked it yourself. I doused it in plenty of tabasco, pan seared. Comfort food wow!

  9. The photo is making my mouth water! Thanks for the steak tips…C makes the steaks at our house and he is always looking for more tips and tricks :) Will tell him about this post!

    We have the same knives I think :)

  10. Before my beef concerns, I dieted my once overweight now overweight again husband a steak and salad diet for a couple of months. He lost weight all right and went down from a size 36 to a size 32 waistline, but his gout acted up. Can’t win’em all.

    So MM, go have your steak and eat it too. Feeling deprived will only make you binge the next time around.

    I am enjoying this discussion. Thankful weight is not an issue for me and I am not even mainggitin.

  11. Steak au jus eh? MM, you should have tried their tomahawk, I think you can use it as a club? lolz! Oh, and Angus is always the top 5%, in terms of quality, in the USDA choice grade category :D

  12. Hi MM!

    I wish I were an excellent cook like you who can prepare succulent steaks!!!
    Please advise the cooking time and temperature for oven setting if we want the steaks Medium Rare/Medium ?

    Thank you!

  13. Hi–whats the standard rule when turning the steak–do it only once ?meaning we don’t cook the same side twice?

  14. When are they going to invent Diet Steak? Tastes and feels like really steak, but with zero calories? :)

    nice, like this one. do tell, MM when you’ve found one. :-)

  15. We’re having pan roasted sirloin steaks tonight! They are thin-cut steaks so they don’t have to be finished in the oven. They are delicious & I like them better & yes they are cheaper than steak house steaks. But we do indulge once in a while & go for dinner at a steak house!

    But here’s a link to Tyler Florence’s take on pan > oven roasted rib-eye steak – same cut as yours MM – & he calls the episode “Ultimate Cowboy Steak Dinner”:

  16. This is funny, coming right after your post on Calorie Counting :-) As to those diet stuff, never did i – even for a second – believe they could have a fraction of the flavor and satisfaction I’d get from truly luscious, juicy beef or pork. Ever heard of Tofurkey? Ugh, that’s deathwish in the kitchen! Gimme my steak, medium-rare.

  17. oh, MM.

    that is what i had for dinner last night. a rib eye steak (about ~1.2lbs -shared with hubby) fried in butter (i know) and then using the leftover butter, i added garlic, added broccoli and a splash of chicken broth, covered the pan until the veggies are cooked. voila! a delicious low carb dinner that only cost less than $15.
    i think i’m hungry again…

  18. Ah, Lorraine, tell me more, hehehe…Saan pa nga ba dapat i-prito ang steak na ganyan—I remember, isang French celebrity chef na may Michelin star ang nagsabi, “Those who don’t use butter are sad people.” This is an indulgence, really, but so worth it!

  19. the steaks in citarella is “cheaper” alternative than lobels. we got our prime beef there during the holidays and it was very good.

  20. yummy — this is more like it – we started doing steaks at home a couple years back and it has really cut down on our dining out budget — now when we find ourselves dining out we tend to go to seafood / italian or more specialized establishments rather than the typical Dallas area steak house (though i still love Bob’s, Del Frisco’s and III forks) – here is a fall back recipe of mine lately — https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cowboy-Rib-Eye

  21. Looks good MM. My husband is on a diet too but its really hard for him to give up meat so instead of me buying beef, I get him buffalo meat because its less fat compared to beef and higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids.

  22. Most people are carnivores and they are like the Tyrannosaurus Rex when they are hungry…. they go and find meat.

    Count me in as one of those people. You can’t simply go wrong with beef.

  23. Hi Marketman,

    When do you salt the steak? I have recently converted to salting the steak at least an hour before grilling. I find that it still is juicy but much more flavorful. I also finish with butter and maldon salt for texture.

  24. when i am pressed for time to make dinner, i just grill rib eye steaks and we
    will have dinner in just a few minutes. the side dishes are just as easy to
    prepare as well. the sweet ending to the dinner… banana foster!

  25. Nothing compares to a good steak. Before we had kids, my hubby and I used to frequent the big steakhouses here in Seattle. (It’s a little difficult to enjoy a $150+ meal with 2 toddlers in tow)

    So, to satisfy our cravings for steak, I’ve been grilling T-bone steaks (our favorite) at home. Thankfully, the grocery store where we shop carries certified Angus steaks. Now, hubby says that my steaks are better than the ones we used to order at our favorite restaurants :)

  26. I can’t wait until winter is over…turn on the barbecue and put some rib eye. It’s funny as soon as you permeate the air with barbecue smoke, everybody in the neighborhood starts grilling. Sea Salt and Pepper is what you need on any good meat. Steak at home is better because those blooming onions or any side orders have tons of calories.

    Now I feel like going to a Churascharia, South American Steak house.

  27. I thought a steak dinner is not really as bad if you skipped the young potatoes with sour cream and dill. Or if you washed it down with a good bottle of red.

  28. Steak, right. Unless you ran to ground, lassoed, slaughtered, dressed, and cooked the hapless cow whose partial carcass is on your plate, I can’t imagine how this meal fit into your diet.

    I’ve been thinking about your Teen challenge and here’s my suggestion — if you really followed a very strict diet, you could probably lose 8 pounds in two weeks. I usually can lose 5 pounds in 5 days by simply switching to salad at lunch and cutting out all desserts. So, my advice is, wait until the end of February (or exactly 2 weeks before the Teen deadline), crash into that diet like it’s the end of the world and lose the weight quickly. This way, you’re cranky and stressed for a short, defined period of time and, therefore, not at risk of losing all your friends, family, staff, or worse yet, getting arrested for aggravated assault on innocent bystanders.

    Last but not least, take it from someone who can happily say I can still get into my favorite designer jackets, slacks, and skirts 20-25 years after original purchase, best to always wear good, tailored to the body, non-stretch fashion. This way, you’ll feel the pinch when you exceed your size. Saves money as well. The designer Oscar de la Renta once said, when asked why his collection did not come in sizes larger than a Misses 10, “Why, Madam, I am not in the upholstery business.”
    Sorry to lecture, your loving sibling,

  29. That is a lovely steak knife, – would that be a Laguiole? A variation on cooking steak in a smilar cast iron pan as yours is to place the pan in the oven until it is extremely hot, then put your seasoned and oiled steak on it over the hot plate. You get a caramelised charred surface with juicy interior.

  30. Derek, in France they refer to their “rare” as still being “blue”… quiapo, yes, it is a Laguiole. MLA, hahaha, I had a good laugh. This steak was consumed weeks ago, before the diet. Have stuck to a 1,800 calorie intake for several days now, with good results. Footloose, nice to see you have internet access in the Amazon… :) apm, I salt just before cooking out of habit, but I completely buy the salt an hour before to remove moisture idea. Another trick if you have a good cold fridge that isn’t opened so often is to “dry age” the steak for 2 days or so in the fridge, unwrapped and on a plate.

  31. MM what do you think about using a cast iron grill instead of a skillet? I find that the grill marks give the beef a charred flavor and crunch that I like.

  32. hi marketman why don’t you just go an protein diet ala atkins that way you get to have your beef and eat it too hehehe. i used to diet that way steak all you can i remember i dropped 45 lbs in 3 months. must do it againin the next months weight does have a way of creeping up on you when you get married and have children.


  33. romwell, I wish… jafores, yes, a cast iron grill would be perfect, but I don’t have one… in another kitchen, we have a gas-fired stove-top grill and that makes great grill marks and a crust… I also think a REALLY high flame or heat source is what can set apart a restaurant cooked steak and a home one. We once ordered a humongous bistecca a la fiorentina in Florence and saw them cook it over an intense wood fire and cast iron grills and it had the most amazing texture on the surface of the steak… one of the best we have ever had!

  34. We only rarely eat beef nowadays…most beef that comes into the household is for the dogs. Fortunately we can get locally raised grass-fed beef and in a pinch a local butcher carries prime-grade beef that is mainly pasture-raised and finished very briefly on corn (and raised without antibiotics/hormones) and will dry age to order. And yes, even the dogs’ beef is from grass-fed cattle, although it’s not prime steak and we don’t dry age it! For my own consumption I do like the occasional steak, well-seared over hardwood coals on the outside and “blue but not mooing” on the inside.

    Romwell, the Atkins diet is pretty well discredited as an unhealthy/unbalanced diet with at least one major medical association having put out official warnings against it. I am always surprised that there are still those who go this route.

  35. Your post is making this pregnant woman swoon and drool! MM, If you find the time, can you please use your cooking prowess to create a similar steak version of Peter Luger’s? Please?

  36. Pam, Peter Luger’s starts with superbly dry aged porterhouses… if you have those, you can replicate their steaks. But without the meat to begin with, it’s kind of hard…

  37. Stomach now growling—yup…i salt and pepper my steak maybe minutes before grilling—has to be really dry– sidings done ahead. Rest a little…and woooohooo…onto the table…hungry now…..salad on the side helps fill you up and lessen calories..(i hope)..ha ha

  38. Thanks for the info, MM! Should’ve known that meat sourcing would be key or you would’ve come up with your own (maybe even better! : ) ) version. Will continue to hope that someday that kind of porterhouse will be easily accessible locally. : )



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